A HEALTH scare was, and remains, one of the driving forces behind Wayne and Karen Hegarty's Carnevore' Meats - a cattle property and farm-based butchering service that specialises in producing chemical-free, grassfed and finished beef.
Wayne had a tennis ball-sized tumour removed from his bowel four years ago and the experience made the pair conscious of the benefits of clean eating and that translated into their business ethos.
Chemicals are no longer used on their paddocks at Mount Torrens and Birdwood, with hay cut and cattle rotationally-grazed on 80 hectares of pastures, which consist of perennial ryegrass, phalaris and clover.
Organic chicken manure is spread across paddocks and the Hegartys have seen great results, with 300 round bales cut this year from 11 paddocks, with three others left for grazing.
There is a major emphasis on raising their growing 100-head Angus and Murray Grey herd in a stress-free environment. Mr Hegarty, who has 40 years' butchering experience, is also very careful when buying in cattle.
"There's some local farmers that follow our principles so when I can't keep up with demand I can source cattle from them," he said.
While he said there were added costs with going entirely grassfed and finished, he was of the view that "whatever goes into the cattle's mouths eventually goes into our mouths".
The Hegartys' approach has been well-received by a customer base that stretches from the southern Yorke Peninsula to the Lower South East.
Cattle are sent to Two Brothers Abattoirs at Lobethal when they reach 390 kilograms liveweight to 430kglwt, before being dry aged for 21 days and processed at the Hegartys' personal butcher setup.
The Hegartys sell their meat online, using social media channels to drive sales.
"The rich flavour is the number one thing people notice when they eat our beef," Mr Hegarty said.
"It takes up to another three months to grow the cattle out. It would be a lot quicker on grain for sure but the results aren't as good.
"There is a growing demand for grassfed and finished beef, lean meat and the associated health benefits so I'd encourage other farmers to get on board."
FARMGATE BUTCHER SHOP TO STRENGTHEN CUSTOMER CONNECTION
ESTABLISHING a personal connection with customers is a major focus for Wayne and Karen Hegarty of Carnevore', Mount Torrens.
They personally deliver the majority of their product and plan on opening a farmgate butcher shop to complement online sales.
The shop will adjoin the Hegartys' accredited processing and packing room, which they transformed from an old dairy. Mr Hegarty processes 150 to 200 cattle a year for Carnevore', plus another 150-200 for other farmers.
Carnevore's beef is available for purchase as a side, a quarter side or a recently-introduced meat lover's pack, which is a conveniently-sized freezer pack containing an assortment of cuts and products.
Mr Hegarty said they used the Angus and Murray Grey breeds - with Angus bulls hired and joined with both Angus and Murray Grey heifers and cows - due to the ease of handling he had experienced during his years of mobile butchering.
"My experience as a butcher has helped with the selection of cattle from a conformation point of view, but also has showed me the importance of having a quiet animal raised in a stress-free environment," he said.
That experience also showed him the worth of hanging meat for an extended period to improve taste and tenderness.
"The more people we deliver grassfed beef to, the more feedback we're getting back on taste, but also the health benefits they're experiencing," he said.
Ms Hegarty said their customer base identified with their clean eating philosophy and said grassfed beef had the advantage of containing a greater proportion of omega 3 fats than a grainfed product.